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There was no shortage of stars out to support independent film at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival in Westwood Village.

Having the festival in the area despite these trying economic times helps restaurants and other businesses reap the benefits. The film festival began on June 18 with the world premiere of The Paper Man starring Jeff Daniels and Ryan Reynolds and ended June 28th. The world premieres of Transformers and Public Enemies also took place at the festival. Fans lined the streets to see Megan Fox, Michael Bay, Christian Bale and Johnny Depp.

Despite the bigger budget film debuts, the heartbeat of the Los Angeles Film Festival is independent movies. Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization. Their mission is to champion the cause of independent film and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision.

This is evidenced in films such as the Stoning of Soraya. The Iranian film screened to a packed house given the political climate of Iran. Khaled Hosseini, writer of the academy award nominated and best selling book The Kite Runner was emcee for The Stoning of Soraya screening. Hosseini has no direct association with film but after seeing the story, he wanted to support a film which lends a voice to oppressed and voiceless women in Iran and around the world.

Oscar nominated Melissa Leo joined the Q & A for Dear Lemon Lima, a film which centers a teenage girl of Caucasian and Yupik Indian heritage. This film incorporates sharing traditions of Eskimo culture. Leo is a supporting actress in the film. There were many other celebrities, including Erin Brokovitch, on hand to discuss social awareness in film or to support socially conscience film.

Best Picks at Los Angeles Film Festival

  • Foreign Language: The Stoning of Soraya
    Given the climate of the times and the poignant story, it would not be a surprise to see this film get an Oscar nod for best foreign language film. Based on a best selling book and true story, the film is set in Iran, but had to be filmed in other Middle East locations. The language spoken is Farsi. The story sheds light on the story behind the unjust stoning of Muslim woman. The broader platform is the lack of women’s rights that still occurs. This film left barely a dry eye in the house and stomach which didn’t feel punched by the end. Jim Caveziel and Shohreh Aghdashloo lend their star power to the film. See more details at
  • Narrative: Dear Lemon Lima
    Oscar Nominee Melissa Leo joins a cast of virtual unknowns in a refreshing and very original teenage coming of age film. The story which takes place in Alaska centers on a teenage girl wrestling with her mixed ethnic background of Caucasian and Yupik heritage. She physically looks White and identifies White culture primarily because her non-white parent was never really apart of her life. This film takes an unconventional route to showcasing elements of Eskimo and Native American culture. There is so much more to Dear Lemon Lima including young love, acceptance and coming into your own. It was hidden jewels at the fest and a film full of surprises, wacky as Napoleon Dynamite.
  • Documentary: Bananas
    Bananas is one of the most talked about and controversial films at the fest this year as it chronicles the global politics of the Standard Fruit Company (now Dole) in regards to the first Nicaraguan sterility case tried in US courts. In a statement provided by the film festival, it states “The festival believes that questions of great public interest are presented by this film and are exactly what we ought to be talking and thinking about in a responsible society. The film is not being presented for the truth of the matters asserted. It is to stimulate discussion…” This film was taken out of the film festival as competitive.
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